In most states and in the state of Florida, you can typically always file a lawsuit as long as you do so pursuant to the rules of civil procedure. Or on the other side of the equation, I get asked, “Can I stop somebody from suing me.” The answer is no. If somebody pleads their complaint correctly, it will be admitted, and once served litigation will have commenced. If you’re suing another party and you’re the plaintiff, then the onus is on the defending party to raise defenses to the lawsuit you’ve brought. There are some instances in contract law where you might be barred from suing for a particular reason, but that doesn’t mean that your lawsuit isn’t still going to be filed. An example, barring you from seeking remedy for breach of contract is the statute of limitations. In Florida, you typically have four years to file a case based on an oral agreement and five years on a written and executed agreement in the state of Florida. As always, there may be exceptions to this depending on the facts and circumstances of the matter.
So, suppose it’s been ten years since a party breached a contract you had entered into and you file a lawsuit based on that contract. A defendant is going to step in and say and argue the statute of limitations bars the plaintiff from proceeding on the breach of contract as it has been beyond the five years for a written agreement. The court is going to dismiss that lawsuit And the defense attorney is likely going to file for an attorneys’ fees award for having to defend a lawsuit that should have never been filed in the first place.
Another instance where a party can potentially keep you from suing them on a breach of contract claim is if you’ve agreed to arbitration or mediation in your contract, or agreed to certain pre-suit conditions prior to a party filing a lawsuit based on the contract. Courts are always going to lean towards the language of a contract before they step in. . There is a legal theory in contract law called the four corners rule. Basically when you file a lawsuit, the court is limited to the “four corners of the complaint”, and they’re going to have to rule based on what that contract says. For example, suppose you have language in your contract that says the parties have to discuss in good faith any issues prior to filing or initiating a lawsuit, and further that this part of the contract has not been complied with. In that case, the defending party can raise as a defense that it was agreed the parties would discuss in good faith any issues prior to a lawsuit, and more than likely, the court will agree with the defense and dismiss the lawsuit until those conditions are actually met.
In addition to that, if you have a specific arbitration or mediation clause in your contract, depending on how it’s worded, that’s likely going to be enforced by a court as well. Sometimes it can be mandatory arbitration where the arbitrator will decide the outcome of the dispute, and you may not even have the opportunity to access the court system with respect to a contractual dispute. Again, the defending party, if they have to spend the legal resources to get a lawsuit out of the court system that should have never been there in the first place, will most likely be awarded attorneys’ fees. It’s always crucial that an attorney analyzes your contract, your rights, any conditions, or any other instances before filing a suit, so you don’t find yourself in that situation.
I Was Mistaken About Some Of The Contract Terms When I Entered Into The Agreement. Can I Get Out Of It?
The answer is yes and no. Like anything in the legal world it will be dependent on the specific facts and circumstances. Some things to consider are: is the mistake mutual or unilateral; is an error something material to the contract, or is it inconsequential; is it something that could have been discovered through an investigation by the party, or is the mistake a result of the other party’s misrepresentation or lack of disclosure? That being said, there are really three ideas of mistakes. There’s a common mistake, a mutual mistake, and a unilateral mistake. A common mistake is turning on whether there’s been a meeting of the minds. Could the parties have realistically agreed, if what they thought they agreed on was a common mistake between both of them?
So, if both parties are mistaken about a contractual fact, have they even agreed to a contract in the first place? The common area where this happens is a mistake over the contract’s subject matter no longer being in existence. An example of this might be two parties are entering into a transaction, and part of that contractual agreement is one of the parties needs a specific product delivered to them. Unbeknownst to both parties, the product that is the subject matter of the contract needing to be delivered was never actually available or in existence in the first place. While they contracted to buy and sell that product, in reality, it was never there and neither party knew it.
A mutual mistake is where both parties make a mistake, but instead of being common, the parties make a different mistake. An example here would be if Party A offers to sell Party B a yellow car, but Party B thinks she was buying Party A’s yellow truck. Both are vehicles, and both are yellow, but one is different. One is a car and the other, a truck. So, they’ve both made a mistake just about different things.
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